By Fr. Jamie Forsythe
Get out the sackcloth, prepare the ash heap, Ash Wednesday is March 6, 2019. And so begins another season of Lent, a time of fasting and self-mortification; a time to put away the nice things in life and make yourself miserable. At least, so we have been taught.
Many Christians will observe Ash Wednesday by having ashes placed on their forehead, usually in the shape of a cross. As the minister is tracing the cross on the forehead, they will usually say “Remember man that you are dust and to dust you shall return” (pretty morbid for my taste), or “Turn away from sin and believe in the good news” (my preference).
For the “dust people,” Lent can be a time of penance and gloom. They perform acts of penance and self-sacrifice, to perhaps grant them extra graces for judgment day. On the positive side, it reminds them that they are mortal and that they should be focusing on the afterlife.
I am a “turn person.” I believe that Lent is a time of growth and conversion. A time to remind ourselves that our true nature is spiritual, and for awhile we exist on earth. We turn away from the things that hold us bound in this world (power, money, self-satisfaction, and instant gratification) to believe in the most basic of all good news, God loves us. We see ourselves not as isolated individuals, but members of a larger family. We reach out in love to help those who are in need, sometimes making a small sacrifice in our lives for the greater good of the world.
Lent is not just about giving up, it is about also giving out. People who only give up something for Lent are going through the season half-ashed. Hear the second part of the admonition; “believe in the good news.” Believe that you are loved by God. Use this season to grow spiritually and let that growth be reflected in loving actions towards others, especially those in need.
May the season of Lent be a wondrous time in your life, a time when you get to know your true self more intimately. Enter the season with a open heart, and you will leave with a heart filled with love.
Holy Angels invites you to join us for the celebration of Ash Wednesday and the Distribution of Ashes on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at 7:00PM. Following the Mass, we will share in a simple meal of soup and bread. ALL are invited.